I recently got a job as a divemaster on a liveaboard in Hawaii and one of my guests told me I absolutely had to dive in Cozumel when I told her about my upcoming trip to Playa del Carmen. Because she and I bonded overseeing dozens of dolphins together along the Kona coast and that she has over 2,000 logged dives – I felt her word could be trusted.
What’s the buzz behind Cozumel diving?
Cozumel reefs are a part of the second largest barrier reef in the world covering 115 acres. The diving is also in a protected national marine park and has been since 1996. This helps preserve and bring back marine life and contributing to a healthier ecosystem.
There are two ways to dive in Cozumel:
- Book a trip from Playa del Carmen
- Book a trip from Cozumel
If you’re not interested in seeing what Cozumel has to offer on land, then I’d say book a day trip from one of the dive operators in Playa del Carmen. They will often include some sort of discount on the ferry ride itself. There was one tour operator trying to book me a tour with the ferry included for $85 USD. This would have been the less expensive option, but I wanted to check out Cozumel for a couple of days and stay on the island.
Cozumel also has many dive hostels. What does this mean? It means you can book your dive trip through the hostel directly and rent gear from them. Then the dive hostel will set you up with a dive operator. In my case, I booked and got fitted for dive gear through 2Tanks Dive Hostel, but we used Blue Magic Scuba’s dive boat.
Quick note: 2Tanks made me pay cash for my stay and for the dives. I chatted with another girl and she was able to pay for her dives by credit card, but she signed up for a larger package. I’m unsure of the reason for inconsistency but it doesn’t help to ask in advance if that’s an issue. There are plenty of ATMs around to withdrawal money from.
Our day began at 8 am where we walked 5 minutes from 2Tanks Hostel to Blue Magic Scuba. From there, they provided a taxi to the boat at no additional cost to us.
Before I continue, I have to share that when we were in a taxi shuttle – I recognized one of the guests sitting next to me. I asked him if he had been diving in Komodo about a year prior and, sure enough, it was a connection! We never became Facebook friends (because it’s not official until you are, right??) but he remembers me working on my dive certifications and as Wicked Diving’s social media girl. Small world, eh? Here’s our photo, and, yes, we’re now officially friends on Facebook.
The dive boat itself is small with no toilet onboard.
“Men to the right and ladies to the left.”, if ya know what I mean.
You should also expect a backward roll entry. Much of Cozumel’s dive sites are also drift dives, but these were mellow compared to some of the rocket speed drift dives I went on in Komodo. Drift dives are fun though. I love drift dives!
Our first dive site was at a wall. I’m still unsure about why they call it a wall. You could face two directions: toward a sloping wall abundant with coral and smaller reef life or facing the deep blue looking for reef sharks and larger sea life. I guess maybe you’re drifting on top of the wall? In any case, it was a beautiful dive and my favorite of the two dives of the day. It ended in a large white sandy area in shallower depths.
After the first dive, we were offered fresh papaya, bananas, and water to stay hydrated. We hung out parked at a dock during our surface interval with a questionable, “Can we pee here?” until one of the other divers came back saying it was now an operating business area so no squatting allowed as people had done in the past. Personally, I don’t mind going with the fishies. Just remove your wetsuit first to prevent any funky pee smells for your neighbor, which reminds me of this quote:
“There are those who pee in their wetsuits and those who lie about it.”
Our second dive was another drift dive. This was also a great dive. Our guide was able to find us reef octopus, a couple of giant spiny-tailed lobsters, and a turtle that was just chilling. One thing that stood out to me is there’s a lot of purple coral in Cozumel. Also, because the dives are in shallower depths, the colors are enhanced compared to what you’d find in the deeper depths of Hawaii. The marine life fish were quite large and different than what I’ve experienced in the Pacific. I was intrigued by all the file fish, cow fish, and ocean triggerfish (very different from reef triggerfish) which were abundant in life during my dives.
It goes without saying that my friend with the recommendation was right. My only regret is not being able to dive there for longer, but I’m sure I’ll be back!